Corporate sustainability communications


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Many companies are beginning some sort of sustainability program, recognizing its financial benefits. While many companies are instituting programs, many do not realize the importance of developing metrics and properly communicating progress. What type of data needs to be collected? Should sustainability be communicated at all or should it be delayed until after most goals are achieved? Many companies, big and small, wrestle with this problem. Overall, it is best to develop some form of communication, to demonstrate goals and progress, whether it is a formal Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR) or a few paragraphs in the corporate newsletter or website. Such a report is an opportunity to communicate your program’s existence to diverse stakeholders and others who have an interest to engender further support.

The report does not have to be lengthy or complex. In fact, small may be better as it has a better chance to get read. Know who your audience is. Who will read the report and what do they care about? Will it be employees, management, customers, business partners? What are they looking for? What are their expectations? Therefore, don’t just write down some goals and background, but do some planning to identify the issues of importance to meet their expectations.

The most important take-away for a reader of a CSR report is data for that is what people will remember. While you may have implemented some good new projects (upgrading your HVAC system, lighting, new windows, etc.), merely describing these does not impress; people will shrug their shoulders. What does resonate with most audiences is data, goals and achievements. So your CSR or few paragraphs should include how many tons of GHGs were reduced (or percentage) and the equivalent of how many trees were planted or cars taken off the road. This is what will impact your readers. Also, talk about the future and goals (i.e., “we’re ahead of pace to meet our goals”). Don’t forget to mention the sustainability team and give credit in print, from upper management support to those in the field.

Now, the next challenge is to get your CSR or section of a broader report read. Use communication tools, like your company’s website and social media to get your message across of your program’s progress, particularly to customers, employees, investors, and other interested parties in the specific places they read, such as in specific Linkedin Groups, in the sustainability, financial, and manufacturing areas.

CCES technical experts can help you not only plan the steps of a sustainability program, but can also develop the necessary data to give it meaning. We can also assist in helping you write your CSR report or other communication.

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